No meat today: Bishop Lopes has decreed that for all Ordinariate Members Ember Friday, December 2 is an obligatory day of abstinence, meaning no meat. As Catholics, we are asked to keep the customary meatless penance on most Fridays of the year, though another penance can be substituted if needed, except on Ember Fridays when it is required for Ordinariate Members to give up meat. In addition to penance, this is also a day to offer up the intention of thanking God for the gifts He gives in the fall season and an opportunity to beseech Him for the discipline to use these gifts in moderation.
Ember Days: Since ancient times the Church has set aside time to pray against famine and disease, and to consecrate each upcoming season of the year through penitential and charitable acts, as well as praying for the souls in Purgatory. These times are known as Embertide. Medieval lore says that during Embertides, the souls in Purgatory are allowed to appear visibly to those on earth who pray for them.
The Friday Penance: While all Fridays of the year which are not Solemnities are days of special devotion, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops decreed some years ago that abstinence from meat, while retaining “pride of place” could be replaced with some other act of special devotion (visiting the sick, those in prison, some additional prayers, etc.) except during Lent. However, Bishop Lopes, upon the recommendation of the governing council, has decreed that the USCCB’s “relaxation” does not apply to the Autumn or Advent Ember Fridays. The relaxation does still apply to Ember Friday in Whitsuntide because the days of the Whitsun Octave are of a joyful character. There never was a relaxation of the requirement for abstinence on Ember Friday in Lent.